Winnipeg committee OKs controversial land expropriation plan for retention pond

A City of Winnipeg proposal to expropriate some land to build a retention pond has cleared another hurdle at city hall, with bureaucrats recommending that politicians ignore a scathing report on the plan.

Property and planning committee voted to continue with expropriation process for Parker Lands

A report released in November on expropriating some property in the Parker Lands area slammed the City of Winnipeg for being secretive, uncommunicative, and non-consultative in the matter. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

A City of Winnipeg proposal to expropriate some land to build a retention pond has cleared another hurdle at city hall, with bureaucrats recommending on Tuesday that politicians ignore a scathing report on the plan.

Councillors on the property and planning committee voted to continue with the expropriation process and acquire the land needed for the retention pond — land that the city had swapped to a local developer seven years ago.

The report by George Ulyatt, released in November, suggested the city was being secretive, uncommunicative and non-consultative about its plan for the Parker Lands off Taylor Avenue and Pembina Highway.

The city needs the land, located in the Fort Garry area, to build the Cockburn-Calrossie combined sewer drainage project, in order to mitigate basement flooding in several neighbourhoods and ease sewage drainage into the Red River.

However, the plan has been controversial because the city had swapped the land to developer Andrew Marquess in 2009, before staff realized they needed it for the retention pond.

Marquess still owns several adjacent acres of property nearby. He has said he intends to develop the whole parcel of land for housing.

While the committee voted on Tuesday in favour of proceeding with expropriation, that decision ultimately requires a final vote from council as a whole.

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With files from the CBC's Sean Kavanagh

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